Thomas Tooke

Monetary depreciation due to the Aquileia mine in the Noric Taurisci

In Bullion and Mining, Monetary depreciations on April 23, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Examples are abundant of expansion of the monetary standard and the resulting effect on its own price.  One of the earliest is Polybius. In his “histories”, in Book XXXIV, he writes the following:

[…]

Near Aquileia, in the territory of the Noric Taurisci, in my own time a gold mine was discovered, so easy to work, that by scraping away the surface soil for two feet, gold could be found immediately. The seam of gold was not more than fifteen feet; in some it was found unmixed with alloy in nuggets of the size of a bean or lupine, only an eighth of it disappearing in the furnace; and some wanted more elaborate smelting, but would still pay thoroughly well. Accordingly, on the Romans joining the barbarians in working this mine, in two months the price gold went down a third thought Italy; and when the Taurisci found out that, they expelled their roman fellow workers and kept the monopoly themselves.

[…]

This raises obviously the question about what is the price of a currency when the quantity is rapidly expanded.

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